If you live in Baltimore, you already know it’s a family friendly city, but we may have discovered some great things to do with kids that you’ve overlooked. If you’re a visitor, prepare to be amazed at how easy it is to get around the city and how many free or cheap activities and attractions there are for kids.
1–Enjoy unlimited rides on antique trolleys at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum. Children under four ride free; 4-11, $8; adults, $11; seniors, $8.
2—At the Baltimore Museum of Art, use family activity booklets in the African, American and Modern galleries; take an audio guided tour of 20 items of special interest to kids; participate in free family Sundays (2-5 p.m.) all summer
3—Get wet and stay cool in the 53 interactive jets of the Walter Sondheim Fountain in West Shore Park on the Baltimore Waterfront
4–Criss-cross the Inner Harbor weekdays on the free water taxi to visit Fell’s Point (Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Museum), the Canton Waterfront Park, or Locust Point, which is close to Fort McHenry.
5–Visit Fort McHenry, the inspiration for the “Star Spangled Banner.” Listen to a ranger talk. Watch weekend drill, musket and artillery demonstrations.
6–Take photos with a giant on the beach at National Harbor. “The Awakening,” a 70-foot-wide sculpture of a bearded giant emerging from the earth, is a great place for kids to climb and play.
8–Chill out while the kids play by the lake at Patterson Park, a terrific inner-city green space. Climb to the top of the park’s iconic pagoda to get a bird’s eye view of the city.
9–Watch a free family movie outdoors during the American Visionary Arts Museum’s “Flicks from the Hill” series on Thursdays during July and August. The natural amphitheater of the Hughes Family Outdoor Theater on Federal Hill seats more than a thousand people with a great view of the 30-foot wide screen and the lights of the city. The museum is also open and free from 5 to 9 p.m. on movie nights.
10–Watch street performers–musicians, singers, magicians, dancers, jugglers–free at the Harborplace Amphitheater between the Harborplace Pavilions. At night, a variety of bands give free concerts Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
11-Bike or hike along the 15-mile Gwynns Falls Trail, a continuous recreation corridor connecting parks, environmental areas, historic landmarks and more than 30 neighborhoods in west and southwest Baltimore.
12–Lunch with the ducks in the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Waterfront Park, a Certified Wildlife Habitat just outside of the National Aquarium. Along with your sandwiches, pack some extra bread for the ducks.
13–Take a guided walking tour of cool historic sites on the Heritage Walk, the city’s oldest urban trail. Meet your guide at the Baltimore Visitors Center at the Inner Harbor. The three-mile walk passes 20 historic sites and museums. Children 12 and under are free; adults $10; seniors/military/students with ID, $7.
14–Watch fudge being made by workers who sing and dance at The Fudgery, 301 Light Street near the harbor.
15–Learn to be a powder monkey on the historic USS Constellation in Baltimore Harbor. During the Civil War young boys carried powder to the guns on fighting ships. Today’s youngsters (six years and older) can experience what life on the ship was like.
16–Stargaze for free on Fridays in the summer 5:30-9 p.m. at the observatory in the Maryland Science Center.
17–See a tall ship, lightship, warship and submarine in the Inner Harbor. Historic Ships in Baltimore charges a fee to explore the historic vessels, but you can ogle them for free, along with any visiting tall ships and yachts.
18–Okay, the Maryland Zoo isn’t free–or particularly cheap–but there are so many cool family friendly activities that it’s worth a splurge for one of the special events for kids. Choose one, buy the tickets before they sell out, and skip Starbucks for a month to recoup the expense.